UPDATED: Representatives from at least 10 organizations rallied outside the Newark Federal Courthouse Friday morning to show support for gay bi-national couple Josh Vandiver of Colorado and Henry Velandia of Venezuela. Velandia is appearing before an immigration judge this morning.
The couple was legally married in Connecticut in August 2010, and if not for the Defense of Marriage Act, Velandia would automatically be granted a green card as heterosexual couples get automatically in the same situation. Attorney Lavi Soloway of the “Stop The Deportations” campaign is defending them in court.
Soloway and other attorneys defending bi-national couples are hoping a new decision by Attorney General Eric Holder in another case may prove useful in Velandia’s case.
BREAKING UPDATE from GetEQUAL:
Speaking with Soloway, their attorney in this matter, after the hearing, he tells Metro Weekly the immigration judge adjourned the deportation proceedings, which will place the matter back on the “master calendar,” which is more of a status conference and, more importantly for Velandia and Vandiver, removes the “immediate threat” of deportation.
“The judge said at the outset that he wanted to deal with the question of whether the case should be adjourned before we discussed anything else,” he says. “Despite the fact that he had earlier twice denied our motions for continuance. At this time, he essentially reversed himself.”
Of the reasons, Soloway says, “The first reason that he granted an adjournment was that the I-130 petition filed by Josh for Henry was still pending and he felt that it was appropriate to let the U.S. CIS to adjudicate that petition, and that it would be inappropriate to move forward until that happened.”
The second reason the judge cited, Soloway says, was Holder’s May 5 decision to vacate a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals related to the application of Paul Wilson Dorman, in which the BIA had applied Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to his pending case.
“He also cited the potential that he saw from the Matter of Dorman decision yesterday, which he reviewed it in court and discussed it,” Soloways says. “He cited the potential that the government might be looking at a different way of approaching the definition of marriage for immigration purposes, and so, it was appropriate to adjourn in light of that decision to vacate.”
On Thursday, Kerry Eleveld of Equality Matters posted an interview with Soloway on AmericaBlog/gay about Holder’s decision:
Here’s what Soloway will argue in courts tomorrow in his own words:
“We’re going to argue to the judge that because the Attorney General has vacated the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision and has directed the board to remand the case specifically with a finding of whether a same-sex partner could be considered a spouse under the Immigration and Nationality Act, this is now a very fluid situation and it’s appropriate to adjourn the proceedings and then wait for a determination by the Board of Immigration Appeals on this question.”
Money quote from Soloway on the implications of Holder’s move:
“The Attorney General’s decision to vacate and remand this case opens the door to a broader understanding of what other remedies might be possible for couples like Josh and Henry.”
And here’s the outcome Soloway hopes for during Friday’s proceeding:
“Victory tomorrow is stopping the deportation proceeding from moving forward, so that Henry does not get ordered deported.”